Success is in the future of open source software

Success is in the future of open source software

Summary: Recently I read an article from Wired Magazine about the creator of the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds. The article portrays him as a family man, yet when it's time to get to work he does just that.

TOPICS: Open Source

Recently I read an article from Wired Magazine about the creator of the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds. The article portrays him as a family man, yet when it's time to get to work he does just that. And we already know this, as he is the chief of the Linux kernel which as we know is a lot of work. But, as with the nature of open source software, he takes a lot of pride with his work, which is clearly evident as he turned down an invite to Apple directly from Steve Jobs. This says a lot. Many of those that use proprietary software and purchase it over and over, have a hard time absorbing the fact that open source software is free and that developers write the software not to make a profit, but because they enjoy doing it and saw a need for the software they write. As I've mentioned before, the end result is quality software that any developer can open, look at, and tweak if they wish. Or, they can inquire with the main team in charge of the particular software title and offer their help. It's a huge system of collaboration, and a very effective and powerful one.

It's no wonder that the GNU/Linux operating sytem is like a Swiss army knife of operating sytems. You can install a GNU/Linux distribution, then choose which pieces and parts you want to install with a few clicks in its own software installation application. And as I've mentioned before, the package management systems like RPM and others are extremely efficient and amazing at keeping software organized.

We should also not forget that the creator of the GNU General Public License is Richard Stallman and was the first to come up with the idea of open souce software. Linus built his Linux kernel and applied the GNU GPL to it. Richard is mainly travelling a lot these days, and lecturing around the world about open source software and its benefits to society. He has a mission to accomplish, and is clearly devoted to his beliefs.

I see a bright future for open source. Developers for the software are more active than ever. Articles have popped up recently that "Linux on the Desktop is Dead". That's not true, Linux is alive on the desktop. Market share with Linux on the desktop has been hovering in the 1% area for quite a while. It's not going up very much, and it's not going down either. I think this is because of the dedicated fanbase out there using it. The Fedora forums are very much alive with users installing and using it for everyday activities on their desktops, as are Ubuntu forums and others as well. GNU/Linux on the desktop as a high percentage of the market may never be a reality, but GNU/Linux in general is a reality. With the increased demand and popularity of the cloud, GNU/Linux usage has been expanding at amazing rates on the server side. The adoption of GNU/Linux on the desktop is a difficult transition. Yes there are occasional announcements of companies and governments migrating from Windows to Linux, but I think Microsoft will keep its grasp on the desktop market for quite some time ahead. I think Microsoft's market share in the desktop market will continue to decline as it already has been over the past several years though. Desktops are becoming less popular, and more and more are waking up to the fact that Microsoft is not your friend, no matter what they try and make you believe. They've demonstrated this fact time and time again with tricky licensing schemes aimed at confusing customers and forcing them to upgrade over and over. As it has done for me, I believe that more and more will wake up and start looking at alternatives, which includes the desktop.

GNU/Linux has taken some interesting twists and turns along the way, especially in more recent times as things have been changing rapidly. While this shows that development in GNU/Linux is very strong, it also causes fragmentation which can confuse the user at times, especially new users. So I think that for the most part in the next few years, things with GNU/Linux will level out and probably be somewhere around where they are today. Unless, Microsoft produces another Windows Vista with Windows 8.

Topic: Open Source

Chris Clay

About Chris Clay

After administering Linux and Windows for over 17 years in multiple environments, my focus of this blog is to document my adventures in both operating systems to compare the two against each other. Past and present experiences have shown me that Linux can replace Windows and succeed in a vast variety of environments. Linux has proven itself many times over in the datacentre and is more than capable for the desktop.

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  • I loved Ubuntu while I was using it. I even started to learn a little Python- must get back to that. Since I bought my latest desktop I haven't moved over to Ubuntu. I should have purchased it without Windows- didn't even cross my mind at the time. I miss my Ubuntu!! Maybe we could make people aware of how much they can save by buying without an installed Windows program- you can do that can't you?
  • @Tom Johnson, Yeah, right. I have 3 laptops, and when I asked them to scrub the disk they started laughing. Told me they couldn't do it because of their pact with MS. I had to pay for the windows license, and then install Linux when I got it home. I don't like someone telling me I HAVE to buy their product. My money, my choice.
  • Tom Johnston :

    A few years ago, customers could request a "Windows refund" from PC manufacturers. But, Microsoft saw what was going on and changed the license agreement with Windows Vista and 7, so that now customers can only get a full refund for the entire PC, not just Windows. Why PC vendors allow Microsoft to dictate how they sell PCs is beyond me. You have two parts, the hardware and the software, and they should NOT be fused together. They should be sold as separate components and optionally bundled if the customer so wishes. Yet, PC manufacturers continue to fuse Windows to PCs. There must be some agreement with Microsoft and the vendors, where Microsoft gives a discount if the vendor agrees to fuse Windows to the PCs. That's the only reason I can think of that would cause a vendor to do that.
  • Whilst new desktop PC's are always being supplied with Windows pre-installed, there will never be anything but a predominently Windows desktop. Sad but true, it's easy, and people are lazy.

    Since retailers and manufactureres can never really get any financial advantage from installing really 'free' software on PC's , as there isn't any profit margin on zero, sothey will never fully push Linux as the main Operating System.
  • I've just purchased a new PC from a company that allows you not to buy Windows with it. The price of a Windows 7 license was revealed to be £50 before VAT, for a machine whose final price including shipping and VAT was £450. I am *very* glad that I was able to spend that £50 on better hardware instead, rather than wasting it on a PC that will actually be running Fedora.
  • 314521 :

    You are definitely correct in that PC vendors do get paid to image "crapware" and Windows on PCs. And if that drives the cost down, then so be it. I often go for the best value, and if that means buying a PC with Windows, and never using Windows, I'm OK with that. Dell did give a good effort at providing Ubuntu for a while, but it didn't seem that the price and selection was right, then I got the feeling that Microsoft stepped in and put an end to that offering.

    Chris Rankin :

    That is great news that there are vendors out there doing this. System 76 is one that has gained in popularity, too.
  • @apex - not quite: OEMs get paid a bounty by eg Symantec to put trial versions of apps like AV onto new PCs ($5-$10-$15 according to my various sources), but they pay Microsoft for the copy of Windows, not vice versa. For the small size of the Linux market, many PC makers find it disproportionately expensive to have an imaging process for an OS rather than Windows; it's economies of scale rather than conspiracy.
    Simon Bisson and Mary Branscombe
  • Simon Bisson and Mary Branscombe :

    I can understand that the OEMs (vendors) do pay Microsoft for the Windows licenses and not the other way around. I meant to mention the crapware that is imaged into the PCs, not necessarily Windows itself.

    ..."many PC makers find it disproportionately expensive to have an imaging process for an OS rather than Windows"...

    I'm not sure I see why that would be, unless you are factoring in the kickback from software vendors like Symantec to include the crapware and trialware for Windows-imaged PCs. The cost of the GNU/Linux software and license is zero, and there are plenty of imaging options for GNU/Linux as well that totally integrate. In addition, the manufacturing cost of the hardware itself should be the same either way, as the hardware should be the same regardless of which OS is imaged on it.
  • @apex - it takes time to find drivers or have them written, to build an image of the OS with the drivers, to test that and to install it on PCs when you sell them. all that has a cost to the business - time, expertise and labour. PC makers are running businesses and they have to assess whether those costs are worthwhile for the extra profit or goodwill they garner. The bounty for the crapware is certainly a bonus, but the extra time and workflow required will matter too.

    Simon Bisson and Mary Branscombe